Geoffrey Stackhouse, Managing Director, Clarity Solutions
The embattled NSW Health Minister Jillian Skinner has been slammed for attending the Helpmann Awards as news of the tragic hospital gas crisis broke.
Or as the NSW Opposition Labor Leader Luke Foley put it:
"It is just grotesque that the Minister puts on the party frock and goes to the theatre after a tragedy like this, instead of making herself available for the families and those affected."
Meanwhile in France, Archbishop Lebrun, who's diocese includes the Church in Normandy where terrorists killed a priest and held a congregation hostage, announced he is leaving the World Youth Day event to be "...in my diocese with families and the shocked parish community".
And then there's Tony Hayward ex BP CEO who left the Gulf of Mexico oil spill crisis for a sailing event on the Isle of Wight.
So it begs the question. Are you ever off duty in a crisis?
Everyone needs downtime to help keep them balanced and fit to handle the crisis, and if Jillian Skinner's explanation seems reasonable, what's driving the outrage?
Physical presence is a clear sign that you care, that you understand the enormity of a crisis and are doing all you can to fix the problem.
In contrast a visible absence signals that the crisis is not a priority for you and that that you don't care.
A couple of quick rules of thumb for the 'Public Face' of a crisis - a.k.a the crisis spokesperson.
1. Show your concern by getting to the crisis site as soon as is safe and practically possible;
2. Apologise early and often. Despite what your lawyers say an appropriate apology is the only way to manage outrage and is unlikely to create a liability;
3. Remember a crisis is emotional, not logical. So your communications must focus on what people are feeling rather than what has happened.